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Judge dials back voter guide claims from pro- and anti-pot legalization groups

 (Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

A Sacramento Superior Court judge on Friday ordered both supporters and opponents of a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana to modify the official arguments they make to voters in November.

The changes dial back claims by both sides in state voter guides regarding the costs of legalizing marijuana, advertising exposure to children and potential health and public safety effects. Many of the changes modify language that says the measure “will” have a certain impact to saying that it “could” have that impact.

One of the hotly contested parts of the measure, Proposition 64, describes the extent to which children could be exposed to television advertisements promoting marijuana. As the Times has reported, the initiative opens the door to marijuana television ads, though there is currently a federal prohibition against them because the drug is illegal.

Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang ruled that supporters and opponents needed to soften their claims on the issue. If federal law ultimately allows for television commercials, the initiative would ban those directed toward children, but not ads appearing on primetime television.

Both sides claimed victory after Friday’s decision.

“As a result of these actions, voters will have more objective, fact-based information in their ballot pamphlet, instead of silly scare tactics from the anti-marijuana browbeaters,” said Jason Kinney, spokesman for the Yes on Proposition 64 campaign.

“The ruling today was clear — marijuana ads could be on broadcast television if Prop. 64 passes — ads that could be seen by children,” said No on Prop 64 campaign consultant Wayne Johnson.

If Prop. 64 passes in November, people age 21 and older could possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana and pot shops could sell it for recreational purposes.

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